2010: A Snow Odyssey

What was the most hellish commute in Seattle's current piddly shit autumn storm that's being spun as Snowpocalypse Now? The five hours it took most bus commuters to make it from downtown Seattle to West Seattle. Slightly better: driving a 4X4. Thrice as quick as either: walking. From Safeco Field to Highland Park. It took an hour-and-a-half. Who knew that a pair of 36-year-old legs and an only marginally newer pair of New Balance would be the quickest way home as Seattle once again proved itself to be as inept as Bob Balaban vying for the same chick as Mother Nature's Adrian Grenier at the bar.

After the bus I was on made it from Pioneer Square to the Krispy Kreme just south of Safeco Field in roughly 45 minutes, I convinced the driver to kick me the curb. Traversing the low bridge from Harbor Island to the peninsula was the only five-minute juncture during the hour-and-a-half (5.25 mile) journey that made me second guess my decision. It was Iditarod cold, but undoubtedly worth the discomfort as I looked back on the dozens of vehicles I'd passed. I felt like Secretariat passing a tired pack of dehydrated mules, or Jeff Gordon lapping a Model T. (Sports metaphors are the gift that keep on giving.) And I wasn't alone in my quest: Dozens of brave pedestrians did the exact same thing, and infinitely more drivers contemplated marooning their cars in the middle of the road and following suit, no doubt.

This, folks, is pathetic. We got a couple inches of snow, a little ice, some mildly heavy winds, and temperatures below freezing. In every part of the country but the West Coast and the South, that's called an average winter day. In Seattle, it brings the city to its knees.

Worse yet, 2008's Snowpocalypse, a weather occurrence that effectively cost a two-term mayor his job, should have taught our elected officials something. Instead we now know it taught them virtually nothing; at least Nickels had a foot of powder to offer up as an excuse. Will Mayor McGinn, like his predecessor, give himself a B when the terra firma thaws? Anything other than a self-inflicted F and forthright pleas of contrition will be unsatisfactory.

But it'd be unfair to heap all the blame on McGinn, just as it was unfair to scapegoat Nickels. No, this is a failure at virtually every level of local government, from the county exec's office on down to the plow driver who got too plowed the night before to salt his roads in a timely enough manner (of especially dubious honor: Metro, whose reroutes were a comedy of obvious errors). But politics isn't fair--someone will and should lose a pinky for what transpired on the night of November 22, 2010. Don't forget that date when it's time to seal your ballot 154 weeks from now, and be sure to ask the mayor how his bike did in the snow. If it was anything like walking to West Seattle, he had it all too easy.

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